A Good Library
- has good books,
- has a quiet place,
- does readings events,
- does cultures events,
- encourages children readings,
- gives communities books,
- teaches expertise.
The Library of Alexandria, Egypt
The new Library of Alexandria was opened in 2002 where the famous ancient library of Alexandria was believed to have stood in Egypt. The ancient library is thought to have been the largest collections of scrolls and scholarly works from around the world. It was curated during the reign (282BCE – 246BCE) of Ptolemy II and was where scholars of the age came together to share their learnings. The new Library of Alexandria pays tribute to the ancient library, whose mysterious disappearance has formed the subject of debate for many years. The library aims to encourage not only knowledge sharing but intercultural dialogue and understanding, hosting conferences, lectures and theatre performances. The library covers seven floors and includes 6 specialised sections dedicated to arts and multimedia, children, young adults, rare books, books for the visually impaired and exchange and archiving.
Mumuni Nabukuyu Library, Zambia
Part of the Lubuto library project, this labour of love took eight years to develop and was opened at the end of 2014. This was the third library built by the Lubuto Library Partners in Zambia, but the first in a rural area (Nabukuyu). The library consists of four round thatched buildings, designed to reflect the indigenous culture of the region and each building has a designated purpose – a reading room with books and nooks to read, a youth centre, an arts centre and a social space. The understated design of the library fits into the community well and creates a space that blends with its natural surroundings, allowing a free flow from indoors to outdoors and encouraging social gatherings. The library focuses on the youth, giving them access to books, technology and creative programs. The simple design also means that it’s environmentally-friendly and sustainable, using local materials and labour.
Hogsback Library, South Africa
Known as the smallest library in the world, Hogsback library is located in a small thatched rondavel just off the main road of this mountain village in the Eastern Cape. Don’t be fooled by its size though, as it holds a respectable collection of books for visitors to borrow. Run by volunteer community members, it is only open for an hour, 2 days a week. Hogsback library proves that you can share a love of books even in the most remote places.
Kigali Public Library, Rwanda
Self-described as “an open and public platform that inspires communities to read, discover and learn,” Kigali Public Library is the first public library in Rwanda. Opened in 2012, this relatively new library is modern, offering patrons access to a number of physical books, as well as digital content, and has an internet café and rooftop coffee shop. Their website offers recommendations of novels, audiobooks and academic titles, and lists events happening at the library. There are a number of events focused on kids, like book readings, art classes and movie screenings. And adults can enjoy art exhibitions, writing workshops and book clubs. Currently, the library holds about 19,000 volumes and aims to grow this by 1,000 books a year.
Street Library Ghana, Ghana
A less conventional library, but one that offers so much to children who would otherwise have very little access to books and literacy. Street Library Ghana was founded by one man, Hayford, who developed a love of reading as a child growing up in Ghana, but saw first-hand how children in rural Ghana didn’t have any access to books and were often illiterate. In 2011, he started his mobile library, collecting books and bringing them to rural communities in his car trunk. Today, the mobile library is a van full of books and educational resources which travels to 8 rural communities, where staff and community volunteers help engage students in educational activities and read with them. Street Library Ghana has also expanded to creating permanent reading hubs in communities and sharing portable libraries with schools and communities. We love this innovative little library because it reaches communities without access to books.
A library should be a source of learning, inspiration and cultural understanding, whatever shape or size it takes. If you happen to be close to one of our five favourite libraries in your travels, why not stop by and see for yourself what makes them great.